Local H. You might remember this as the band that didn’t have a bassist. What was borderline-innovative back in the late 90s can now almost be considered old-hat. Paving the way for such artists as the White Stripes and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, bands can now feel comfortable forging ahead without having to find (or even worse…hire!) a bass player to fill in the low end.
Unlike the aforementioned bands, Local H’s lead guitarist/singer actually modified his guitar to output bass signals. The result is a full-sounding two-piece band that can be just as heavy as a three-piece or even a four-piece band. I saw them when they toured with Stone Temple Pilots, and I was searching for a bassist on stage for the entire show. They sound just as good live as they do on disc.
The overall feel of Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? is upbeat, energetic, and still carries a little bit of the “angry at people” attitude. “Everyone Alive” starts off with an all-too-familiar thrashing three-chord progression that is bound to start a few nostalgic mosh pits. Being from Illinois, you could call “California Songs” their anti-anthem. Local H spends four minutes complaining about the over-abundance of songs about California. Like a ode to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” the vocal exclaim, “Here we go again / It’s never gonna end / We’re all so sick of California Songs / We know you love L.A. / There’s nothing left to say / Please No More California Songs.” Just for good measure, they even throw in a “and fuck New York too” every once in a while. Nice touch.
One thing that I like about the album is the continuity from track to track. The drums usually keep going at the end of the song as the guitars and vocals drop out, but then return with another song over the same rhythm. The lyrics fell a bit short of the music in that the lyrics were extremely repetitive, and sometimes a verse would repeat for the entirety of the song. This can assure Local H that at their live performances, people who don’t know the lyrics at the beginning of the song will be singing the lyrics with confidence by the end.
Although it doesn’t break any boundaries or trends, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? is a great- sounding no-nonsense rock album that is bound to please old Local H fans and pick up some new ones in the process.